Four veterans will be recognized during the annual Veterans Day program set for 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in Treen Auditorium and presented by the Student Government Organization at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA).
The honorees are Maj. Kenneth Bates, Sgt. Matthew Dranguet, Lt. Col.Keith Tonnies, and Dr. Margaret Wheat-Carter. Fire Controlman 2nd Class Paul Carter (’91) will be the keynote speaker for the event.
Bates, a Pleasant Hill native, enlisted in the Army in 1969 and served at Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Ft. Wolters, Texas. After being discharged, he finished his undergraduate degree in history from, what was then, Northwestern State College. Bates joined the Army ROTC and became an Armor Officer in 1973, serving for 21 years. After retirement from the Army, he taught at Natchitoches Central High School for 20 years and served as head coach for cross country and track and field. He has been married to Donna Middleton Bates for 48 years and together they had four children who had a total of seven grandchildren.
Dranguet became a Sergeant in the Marine Corps in 2013. He was a mortarman with the 3rd Battalion 8th Marine regiment. After four and a half years of service, Dranguet moved to inactive reserves and works as a Narcotics Detective with the Natchitoches Police Department.
Tonnies was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in May 1988 from the ROTC program at Virginia Tech. He has served as Missile Launch Officer, Chief of ICBM Requirements and Chief of Weapons Safety at Air Force Global Strike Command.
Wheat-Carter, a Monroe native, joined the US Public Health Service in 1965 where she rotated through different departments, including Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology. She married Reginald Wheat in 1962 and together they had four children.
The keynote speaker Paul Carter enlisted in the Navy after leaving LSMSA. He spent two years training as a Fire Controlman before being assigned to USS Antrim where he was part of the interdiction efforts leading to Operation Uphold Democracy. He was later assigned to the USS Crommelin after the Antrim was decommissioned. Carter left the Navy in December 1998 and now works for Texas Instruments as a research and development engineer.